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Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Sedgemoor (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 29772 36987



ST2936NE ST MARY STREET 736-1/11/184 (North side) 24/03/50 Parish Church of St Mary


Parish Church. Early C13, substantially rebuilt in C14 and nave reconstructed c1420-30; restored 1848-57 and 1878, principally in 1849 under W H Brakspear when nave and aisle roofs replaced ; tower and spire repointed and restored and buttresses added 1887-8. Chancel and tower of red Wembdon sandstone rubble, blue lias limestone, Ham Hill stone with double-Roman tile roof. PLAN: complex cruciform plan: sanctuary of 2 and a half bays, choir of 2 bays with north ans south chapels, aisled and clerestoreyed nave of 5 bays with transepts linked to porches and a low west tower topped with a tall spire. Pointed-arched windows with stopped hoodmoulds. The 2-bay gabled chancel is of red sandstone and some limestone, moulded coping and kneelers; the transomed 5-light east window has panel tracery; the returns, with parapets of pierced quatrefoils, have 3-light windows with perpendicular tracery. To the north of the chancel is a red sandstone vestry dated 1902. The rest of the north walls are of lias limestone. The gabled north transept, with parapet of pierced trefoils, is of 2 bays with C13 set-off clasping buttresses and two C13 blocked pointed-arched openings to bottom of east wall; the large late C19 Decorated-style north window is of 5 lights with tracery of 4 quatrefoils enclosed in circle to the top; below are steps down to small door to crypt set in single-chamfered pointed architrave; flanking it are 2 recesses, each with 7 cusps, over eroded horizontal figures, possibly c1300 (Pevsner). The north and south facades are complicated by transepts with east chapels and by chancel chapels. The north wall has a similar parapet to chancel slightly gabled over early C13 door to right which if in situ shows that the church was aisled at this time; this has traceried tympanum and bishop's head capitals to the colonnettes; an oculus above with 6-point star to tracery is flanked by niches with crocketed gables supported by colonnettes. The 5-light window to left has elaborate reticulated tracery. The castellated chapel to north-west has 3-light windows with perpendicular tracery. Angles to this and west tower have substantial diagonal set-off buttresses. The C14 tower by Nicholas Waleys (J Harvey and Pevsner) is of red sandstone with string course below Ham Hill stone ashlar castellated parapet; the 2 stages are marked by a simple string course, the left return (north) has 2 small pointed windows, the west end has label mould with foliate stops and spandrels to a pointed-arched studded door with full-width integral strap hinges. Above it a pointed arch of alternate red and stone has a hoodmould with head stops to a 2-light window with a trefoil head to each light and a quatrefoil between. The bell-openings are 2-light with Somerset tracery. A stone plaque reads "IMI R 1697". To the south side a castellated square stair turret to the right rises above parapet of the tower; it has 6 slit windows with Ham Hill stone dressings and a downpipe hopper head dated 1887. The tall slender unadorned octagonal tower is of Ham Hill stone ashlar. The reticulated tracery of the window in the south aisle is C19 (Pevsner). The west end of the south aisle has a parapet of pierced trefoils, those to C19 clerestory of nave, south transept and eastern end are pierced with quatrefoils. The south-west chapel is 2-bay with 5-lights and reticulated tracery to the windows. The bay containing the south door, stepped slightly forward, has set-off angle buttresses below an oculus with double-cusped tracery; to right is a 4-light window with reticulated tracery. The shallow-gabled south transept is a single bay with panel tracery to all 3 windows, 5-light to the south and 4-light to the returns. The south aisle and the chancel are each 2 bays with similar 3-light windows, all below a pierced quatrefoil parapet. The string course below the parapets has bosses at approx 1m intervals and gargoyles above to buttresses. The building is encircled by a plinth, double to south-west corner, with Ham Hill stone capping. INTERIOR: Fine C19 polychromatic tiled floor to porches, aisles, choir and nave. The 3-bay chancel has C15 panelled slightly pointed barrel-vaulted ceiling with moulded braces, every fourth brace is richly pierced and cusped and rests on an angel with outstretched wings, the faceted corbel of which has a foliate pendant. Carved bosses to the panelling, 1385-1416 (VCH). 3-light windows to each side, a piscina with C20 added wooden doors is flanked on left by remains of original stalls now used as a sedilia and below central window is a stilted Tudor arch with foliate stops to a pointed-arched door. C17 communion table and moulded altar rail with barley-sugar twist balusters, C19 marble steps to the choir which has the town crest and medieval motifs incorporated in the floor tiles. C13 massive polygonal arches to east of the crossing. The 6-bay nave separated from aisles by an arcade supported by columns of 4-hollow-section with small circular capitals to the shafts. The roof is C19. The upper storeys of the porches which do not project on the outside, form balconies facing the interior. That to north has wide semicircular arches with a central mullion flanked by cinquefoil-headed arches and a pierced trefoil between, one facing the nave, 2 facing the north transept. The balcony to south has one cusped ogee arch facing the nave and one facing the south transept. Both balconies have pierced stone balustrades. The ceilings of the aisles are panelled, C17 to north aisle and C19 to south. In aisle walls are tomb recesses, those to north have cusped arches similar to those over south porch which have large spherical bosses, those to south are C19. Notable furnishings include C15 screens in north and south chapels with one-light sections; in south transept a C17 former rood screen has dado with rusticated columns and 2 tiers of arches between, 16 one-light divisions with thin ornamented columns and strapwork and obelisks on the top. C17 stalls, built for members of the Corporation, moved to present position in early 1850s. C18 sounding board over early C16 octagonal oak pulpit with pointed and ogee-arched panels articulated by panelled pilasters with crocketed finials, the stone base is corbelled out to support it. On east wall of chancel is a painting of "The Descent from the Cross", attributed to Murillo and given to the church in C18 by Mr Pawlet of Hinton St George. Monuments include a large marble monument to Francis Kingsmill d.1621, he is represented semi-reclining on his elbow with his 2 sons in recesses kneeling behind him, both facing east, d.1621 & 1640. Monument by Reeves of Bath, to John Dunning d.1821. 1640 tomb to left to Sir Francis Kingsmill; 1769 window to right of chancel to Joseph --- and Bonjohn; 1880 window to left to Pawlet The family of Dampiet House (qv). Above west door are richly carved and gilded arms dated 1712 with the motto SEMPER EADEM to the lower scroll. High in north porch a fine marble plaque of an egg on a plinth is dated 1795. (Buildings of England: Pevsner N: South and West Somerset: London: 1958-: 94-6; Kelly's Directory: London: 1910-: 137-8; VCH: Somerset: London: 1992-: 233-5).

Listing NGR: ST2977036996


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Dunning, R W, The Victoria History of the County of Somerset, (1992), 233-5
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, (1958)
'Kellys Directory' in Somerset, (1910), 137-8


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 24 Sep 2002
Reference: IOE01/05956/11
Rights: Copyright IoE Michael Bass. Source Historic England Archive
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